India’s ace shuttler PV Sindhu's medal chances at the Tokyo Olympics increased after she got sorted into an easy group at the Draw Ceremony on Thursday. The 2016 Rio Olympics silver medalist has been placed in Group J of women’s singles.
Entering the competition as sixth seed, she will face Cheung Ngan Yi of Hong Kong and Ksenia Polikarpova of Israel in the first round. The top-ranked shuttlers from the group will qualify for the round of 16.
PV Sindhu’s Group J analysis
PV Sindhu, 26, will start as the favorite in her group and the competition. She faces Cheung Ngan Yi in the opening game slated for July 24 at the Musashino Sport Plaza.
Ngan Yi is the current World No. 34. The Hong Kong shuttler was a 2019 Asian Mixed Team Championships bronze medalist and East Asian Games bronze winner in 2013. Sindhu is likely to breeze through in her opening game.
Ksenia Polikarpova, on the other, will pose a challenge to PV Sindhu. The World No. 58 was a European Junior Championships bronze medalist in 2009. The Israeli shuttler is also a three-time European Mixed Team Championships bronze medalist and BWF GP silver medalist in 2013.
PV Sindhu’s Road to Tokyo Olympics final
While Sindhu has got an easy group, she will be put to the test in the knockout rounds. In round 16, she is likely to face one of the fastest rising forces in badminton, Mia Blichfeldt of Denmark.
The Danish shuttler, seeded 13th, is sorted into Group I with former European bronze medalist Linda Zetchiri of Bulgaria and six-time Oceania champion Chen Hsuan-yu of Australia.
Blichfeldt will be the favorite to advance to the next round. She is the 2019 European Games champion and 2018 European Championship bronze medalist.
However, in round 16 of the clash, it is Sindhu who will take the take to the court as the favorite. The duo met thrice in 2019, with the Indian shuttler dominating in all competitions.
In their last encounter at Indonesia Open, however, Sindhu was put to the test. However, she came out of it with flying colors as she won the game in three sets.
In the quarterfinals, she is likely to face fourth seed Akane Yamaguchi of Japan.
Yamaguchi is a 2018 world medalist and 2019 Asian champion. The duo have clashed seven times since 2018, with the Japanese winning four. Their most recent was at the All England Open in March, where PV Sindhu won an epic thriller.
In the semifinals, Sindhu is predicted to meet Tai Tzu Ying of Chinese Teipei or Ratchanok Intanon of Malaysia. It will certainly be a worthy match-up, given PV Sindhu’s history with the two.
Against Ratchanok Intanon, the Indian shuttler has won two games out of three. But in their most recent in January this year, Intanon got the better of PV Sindhu.
However, it will be Tzu Ying who will be a bigger threat to PV Sindhu’s gold medal hopes. The Chinese Teipei shuttler has been a thorn in Sindhu’s path since 2018.
The duo have met six times, with Tzu Ying boasting a four-two win record against the Indian shuttler. The last time Sindhu won against her was in 2019 at the World Championships. Interestingly, the Indian shuttler also won against Tzu Ying at the Rio Games in the round of 16 clash.
If Sindhu manages to advance to the Tokyo Olympics final, it will be her second in a row. She is likely to face her 2016 Rio Games semi-final opponent Nozomi Okuhara of Japan or An Se-Young of South Korea.
Sindhu and Okuhara have met eight times since 2018 and the Indian shuttler has won on five of those occasions. However, in their last encounter in 2020 at the All England Open, the Japanese player won the match with great dominance.
Sindhu has never won against An Se-Young.